I've been trying to keep books lists for a long time - I'm a compulsive sci-fi/fantasy reader, and gulp my way through new books as if I've been lost in a metaphorical book desert. Consequently, I read erratically - it's only safe to pick up a new book if I have a couple hours to read through the whole thing, and such an occurrence is rare. So in the below list, you'll see lots of books read in quick succession, then huge sad gaps of emptiness.
The New Attempt to Keep Track of Books: My Goodreads Account
The Old Attempt to Keep Track of Books
03/18/2014 - Raising Steam (by my favorite living author, Terry Pratchett)
Brief review: I've read a variety of comments from people discussing the shifts in Sir Pratchett's writing style over the last couple of years. And most of them blabber on about his condition and etc. etc., which - frankly - is none of their business. I'm deeply grateful that he's still alive and still writing, and I hope he stays that way for years to come! Besides, there's one tidy little explanation for the recent shifts in writing style: Sir Pratchett now dictates, instead of types, his books. And there are distinct turns of phrase in his more recent books that may read awkwardly for a moment, but if you just imagine him reading the book aloud with those lovely little emphases and intonations that are difficult to convey in text, then it's perfect! In other words, these are perfect for the stage, and Sir Pratchett is as brilliant as ever - his work flow just shifted a little, and so we need to shift the way we read.
From 12/25/2013 'til 1/13/2014:
- Knight of the Black Rose (one of Jordan's random childhood books)
- Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection (blame the new BBC season of Sherlock!)
- A Quest of Heroes (available for free on Google Books)
- The Magicians (recommended by Becca as the "grown-up Harry Potter)
- The Anubis Gates (recommended by a colleague of Jordan's)
- Declare (picked after enjoying Anubis Gates)
12/24/13 - Net Force (one of Jordan's random books)
Brief review: Although this book isn't that old (published in 1999), it's amazing how old it reads. First, it was definitely written before smart phones, as so much of the wow! technology is based on having a microcomputer in your pocket or on your wrist. It's kinda cute, frankly. The gender divisions are less cute - the two main character women, both with careers (one as a government agent, one as an assassin), are single, and the chapters written from their perspective involve a large amount of thinking/talking about men. The assassin actually rarely thinks or talks about men, but she's sexualized by constant reference to how she wanders around her safe houses naked, and what the neighbors must think. (Also, they never talk to each other*, which makes the book fail the Bechdel test already.) The chapters from the career men's perspectives involve very little mention of women and romance - mostly, they talk/think about an ex-wife and prostitutes. It's annoying to read a fun and well-paced book that makes such stupid mistakes - is it so hard to have career women who don't think about flirting all the time?
*Okay, they must talk to each other, because the assassin holds the government agent hostage to try to get the main character dude within killing distance. But I don't know what they say. "Don't move, or I'll kill you!" Also, if it's not actually dialogue between them in the book, does it count for the B-test? I vote no.
- The Family Jensen: Hard Ride to Hell (a Western from Dad)
- Butchery of the Mountain Man (a Western from Dad)
12/21/13 (my birthday!)
- Black Horse Creek (a Western from Dad)
- Mattimeo (a Redwall book from Mom, who's refilling my Redwall collection)
- Mariel of Redwall (another Redwall book from Mom)
12/20/13 - A Big Sky Christmas (a Western from Dad)
Brief review: These books are not my cup of tea. That said, I didn't hate them - I liked the world they took place in, and the version of "magic" that exists. But the first book was completely based upon those misconnections and misunderstandings that advance the plot, but bore the reader - I found myself thinking, "If only they'd been 10 minutes later, all this hassle could have been prevented!" And unfortunately, I found myself thinking that several times, which is several times too much. It's tricky to have multiple sides of "good" in a book, and keep the tension between them high, but it's possible - and the misconnection/misunderstanding method is cheating, methinks. The second book was better, smoother, and more complex, with less reliance on narrative tricks to keep the story interesting. That said, the odd sibling incest theme caught me off guard, especially after the first book's complete lack of such a tone, but it brought up an interesting question: if someone else is in your brother's body, is it okay to be sexually involved? According to our cultural training against incest, yes - because you're not actually having sex with your brother (or sister, or first cousin, or whatever). But according to the main purpose behind our cultural myth - avoiding the weaknesses that come out of inbreeding - no! I found it intriguing that the cultural story we tell interpret the situation differently from the actual purpose of that cultural story, but other than that, again, not really my cup of tea. (But at least this second book had more fighting!)
12/11/13 - NOS4A2.
Brief review: NOS4A2 originally appealed to me because of the title - one of my little-known super-powers is deciphering license plates, so the clever title/license plate caught my eye. As I started reading, the growing spookiness of Joe Hill's story caught me off card - perhaps the delicate blood spatters adorning the cover should have warned me, but each spatter was cleverly paired with a squished mosquito, so I had dismissed the warning and opened the book anyway. Now, I don't read horror - and the first ghoul-based chapter in McNaughton's Throne of Bones made me turn off the audio book and pretend that it had never happened. And while Hill's world - or rather, our world, with some layers of secrets revealed - isn't horror, per se, it does a constant introduction of more and more terror and sorrow and weirdness as the books goes on. A quicksand of worries, slowly pulling us down, introducing little moments of safety - of ledges, to put our feet on and take a breath - only to take those ledges away and make us feel like the only hope between here and infinity is the author's voice. A lifeline. So if you want to lose a day of your life - and spend it with the delightful, fucked-up heroine instead - pick up this book. You'll never feel the same about Christmas again.
Pro-tip: Don't forget to read the "comments about this typography" page at the very end.
Recommendation: Buy this for anyone on your Christmas list who likes horror (or at least likes scary), or for that annoying person in your family that takes the holiday way too seriously. This book might take the edge off their unbecoming enthusiasm.
12/10/13 - The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Brief review: This book is in Gaiman's Coraline tradition, not in his American Gods tradition. In other words, it's the perfect children's book - but only if you believe in letting your children read books that feature scare and startle and sorrow. If Boxcar Children is as racy as you let your kids get, you'll give up on this book in the first dozen pages - but, I submit to you, you are doing your children a great disservice. I belong firmly to the camp that believes in the scary/startling/sorrowful nature of children, who are, frankly, downright spooky sometimes. Children have weird dreams and flights of fantasy and night terrors - at the same moment that they believe the world revolves around them, they are terrified at the thought, because what good can come of a world that revolves around them? The Ocean at the End of the Lane will reassure them, because in the end, after the random evil wanders into their world and rips away the comforting lie that adults are all-powerful, good triumphs. And then, as children always suspect will happen, the amazing child who is saved grows up and becomes boring and confused - and forgets the essential truths that compose the world. But that is nothing new to kids - they know that growing up means losing something, and sometimes that something is the most beautiful thing that's ever happened to them.
Pro-tip: If you're an adult reading this book, be prepared for oddly sad and wispy musings about whether things gained in adulthood make up for things lost from childhood.
Recommendation: If you're an aunt or uncle to a single child that's protected from all things scary, do them a favor and buy them this book. If you'd like to stay in good graces with his/her parents, wrap it and say you bought it from one of those random "pre-wrapped gift book" baskets at the bookstore. Because you thought it was going to be the Boxcar Children or something like that. Right?
12/6/13 - 12/10/13 - I stole books from my brother and sister-in-law's odd bookshelves, essentially grabbing whatever I hadn't read, that also looked like fantasy. I ended up with a bunch of Tamora Pierce young adult books, which fit my sorta-vacation-visit well.
Old attempt to start the list: in August, I abandoned my attempt to bend Squarespace to my will, and the poor Hunger Games sat lonely on my reading list until now... #sigh
8/5/13 - The Hunger Games (re-read)
At the beginning of 2012, I tried to keep a reading list properly--I've included it here, even though I didn't manage to keep it up for long. Frankly, this list is useful just so I remember what I've read--the whole "gulping books" thing doesn't lend itself well to remembering them...
1/1/12: World of Warcraft graphic novel, Vol. 1 (Lo’Gosh, Valeera, and Broll)
World of Warcraft graphic novel, Vol. 2 (Lo’Gosh and Varian)
World of Warcraft graphic novel, Vol. 3 (Thrall and Varian)
1/3/12: Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (old old Tintin book)
1/15/12: The Book of Lost Tales 1 (because I’ve become a little obsessed with Tolkien...)
1/23/12: Hunger Games (re-read)
1/31/12: The Book of Lost Tales 2 (Tolkien)
2/06/12: World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen (Gilneas)
2/15/12: Lord of the Rings (Tolkien -- the red book trilogy version; also, re-read)
2/18/12: Thief of Time (Terry Pratchett; re-read)
2/25/12: The Hobbit (Tolkien; re-read)
3/08/12: The Return of the Shadow (Tolkien)
3/10/12: The Book of Cain (Diablo III lore)
3/21/12: Storm Front (Dresden Files; re-read)
3/26/12: The Treason of Isengard (Tolkien)
3/28/12: The Light Fantastic (Terry Pratchett; re-read)
4/13/12: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (random crap from the airport bookstore; total blech)
4/18/12: The Affair (random stuffs; not as bad as above book)
4/20/12: World of Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy (Kalec, Anveena, Tyri, & Jorad)
4/20/12: World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Volume 1 (Kalec, Tyri, & Jorad)
4/20/12: World of Warcraft: Shadow Wing Volume 2 (Kalec, Tyri, & Jorad)
4/22/12: Pattern Recognition (possibly my favorite Gibson book so far)
4/22/12: War of the Ring (Tolkien)
4/28/12: The End of the Third Age (Tolkien; with previously unpublished epilogues! So exciting!)
5/07/12: Pogo: Volume 1
5/09/12: Cat Tail (a book Dad sent me, that I can’t find online at all!)
5/12/12: Guards! Guards! (Terry Pratchett; re-read for the Glorious 25th of May)
5/16/12: Carpe Jugulum (Terry Pratchett; re-read)
5/19/12: World War Z (random book lying around rental house in Malibu)
5/24/12: The Help (airport reading!)
5/25/12: Going Postal (Terry Pratchett, re-read)
5/26/12: The Truth (Terry Pratchett; re-read)
5/27/12: Furies of Calderon (starting a new - for me - Jim Butcher series)
6/02/12: Unseen Academicals (Terry Pratchett; re-read)